Are you for real?

BY Matthew Consolmagno |

It’s your first day of your internship or “real” job, in a real office. You don’t have to wear a uniform or a name tag, this is serious. You’ve been given real work to do. 
If they find out that you’re incompetent and you don’t really know what you’re doing, you’re gone. 

Don’t worry, this feeling has a name, it’s called Imposter Syndrome. It’s defined by Wikipedia as: “a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a "fraud".

Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved.”

It sounds crazy, but it is a thing. And it’s a common thing. According to a survey of 1,000 working UK adults, 85% felt inadequate or incompetent at work, and almost 70% don't feel they deserve their current success. And it’s not just for those starting their carer, high achieving, highly successful people experience it too.

So, how do you overcome it? 

Firstly, realise that you have it. Acknowledge the negative thoughts you’re having, maybe even write them down. 
Don’t forget that it’s normal not to know everything. Mistakes and knowledge gaps happen at all levels, so forgive yourself for errors and pat yourself on the back if you learn something new or achieve a goal. 

Talk to someone about it, preferably someone who you think will be objective and honest with you. Hopefully you’ll get a reality check. Remember, you are in that office for a reason, and that reason it that the managers / HR people thought you were capable. You have achieved everything that is required to do the job you have been assigned to.

Unless you lied in your interview and faked your graduation certificate, you’re not an imposter. Embrace your new challenge, don’t fear it.

UK survey results here

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